FOOD FOCUS: Insulin and its Effects on Our Metabolism

While I plan on ranting about a lot of things on this blog, something I hope to do more of is educate. I want people coming here to learn something useful to take home and apply to their goals/lifestyle. 



I am going to do my best here to REALLY OVERSIMPLIFY and clear up what I find to be the key to success in the diet world - the manipulation of Insulin. 

It's kind of interesting to see all of the pop-up workout places (as discussed in previous post/rant). Their goal continues to be to provide the most intense workout. Correct, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is pretty much the BEST and the FASTEST way to shed fat - from a workout standpoint. Not only does it stimulate fat loss (EPOC) and muscle gain (from increases in GH production, etc.) at the same time (some think of it as the combination of cardio and strength training), but it also FEELS like a workout. People love it, and ideally, everyone that does these pop-up workout classes would possess God-like physiques...right?

Some say that abs are made in the kitchen. Even as a person that does not do "phrases" like this, or 'stick in the mud', or 'the pot calling the kettle black' because I think they are inefficient uses of our vocal cords and mindspace; I do agree. We all have abs, they just need to be uncovered and to some extent bulked up so that we can see them better. The point being this: your [fat loss and muscle gain] results are going to come a lot faster (let alone at all) with an increased focus on diet. 

Why the roundabout way of getting to the main topic of Insulin?

1) This is my blog so I can do whatever I want.

2) It is important that these posts promote a general healthy lifestyle for which most of my clients and people that will be reading this, should be striving. I am here to fight Wall-E becoming a reality (at least some aspects of it - wouldn't mind the vacation spaceship thing).

3) Because it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for people to realize that not everyone should just be turning up the intensity without tweaking other aspects of their life in order to see results. 

Okay, here we are now - Insulin. 

But first, let me take a selfie.

Okay, for real now. Insulin is a major hormone in our body that has a direct effect on BOTH glucose (sugar absorption) and fat storage.

We need insulin to help transport blood sugars into the cells - which is a good thing because it will be used or stored within the cell for use as fast energy later. 

We also need it because it allows the liver to store extra sugar as well. All fine and good so far.

As humans, it is important to have insulin for this other reason: fat storage. When no more can be stored in the liver or cells as glucose/glycogen, the body basically has to store it somewhere else as fat. Yeah, it sucks, but it still makes sense in terms of energy because it still possible to turn that fat back into usable energy later. So, what I am saying is don't hate on our buddy insulin. He's a hard working one that insulin. 

So let's take a look at how this works in our diets. 

Every time that we eat, insulin is released. The amount that is released is largely dependent on the type of food eaten. I will simplify things into these groups: Low Glycemic Index (LGI) Carbs, High Glycemic Index (HGI) Carbs, Protein, and Fat. Some examples of LGI carbs would be beans, cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, some berries. Some examples of HGI carbs would be white bread, candy, potatoes, honey
Here is a list of things on a glycemic index - don't get too into the detail, it can get exhausting, look for trends.

Sorry, getting lengthy here, so I will try to hurry this up
LGI carbs, Protein, and Fat stimulate a relatively low insulin response
HGI carbs stimulate a relatively high insulin response 

Now, imagine you eat a steady amount of all four at every meal. Try a steak sandwich (fat, protein, HGI carbs) with a small side salad (LGI carbs) for every meal of one day, for example. In regards to insulin, it is constantly at work, constantly being told by the liver and cells that they can no longer store any more sugar, so it has to store it as fat. Sure, not the worst, or even unhealthiest thing around, but it wreaks havoc on the body over time. Not only are you storing fat more because your body can't take up any more purely because of volume; your body even starts getting desensitized to insulin's presence. And there you have it, Type 2 Diabetes.

Not everyone I train is on their way to Diabetes by any means, but it is important to understand that even if you feel like you eat 'healthy and organic,' there is more going on than just that in terms of fat loss.

Quick side note: Will probably rant about FAD diets soon. But it is interesting to digest why they become FADs and what the science is behind them. More to come.

ALSO, my favorite part of the Insulin spiel: Guess who acts like our boy Insulin and actually stuffs blood sugar into cells without insulin around? Our girl EXERCISE. Yes, this is why exercise is SOOOO important for fat loss, overall health maintenance, etc.

Now let's talk about strategy. 

NEVER, EVER eliminate an entire food group from your body unless it actually causes an allergic reaction. We need all of the Macronutrients (HGI/LOW GI carbs, fat, protein) and Micronutrients to maintain overall health, but there are ways to make sure doing this doesn't affect your fitness goals negatively. 

ALWAYS think about timing. I actually think of it in terms of insulin response. Obviously, different goals, different strategies in terms of carbs (i.e. bulking). I also like to imagine (I learned this from something, but don't quote me too hard), that our bodies take 8 hours to work through the carbohydrates we eat at a meal. Again, oversimplification, but if you imagine those 8 hours need to go by before you are in what I call a FAT BURNING ZONE (because your body is no longer running on fast carbohydrate energy/insulin/FAT STORING) then you will see why I choose to have all of my HGI/LGI carbs around late morning/lunch.

Fat Loss meal plan strategy - again, basic, but it doesn't tell you to stop eating anything, just time it right

Breakfast: Low/No Carb, Hi Fat/Protein
Lunch: Med-High Carb (both HGI and LGI good here), Med-Hi Fat/Protein
Dinner: Low Carb (mostly LGI at that), Hi Fat/Protein
FAT BURNING ZONE shortly after dinner and throughout the night until I stimulate insulin production around Lunch the next day.

The reason for doing it into sleep is simple - more time to not have to think about being hungry or craving carbohydrates for the drugs they are. Plus, your body is still burning fat when asleep, so might as well make it as easy as possible for it to do so.

Simple and effective. The trickiest part for most people to overcome is the energy in the morning without something like a fruit. I personally go for black coffee with some cinnamon on it and I feel satisfied and energetic. 




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